The prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita requested the investigation of five officials of Public TV, for the withdrawal of $ 11.4 million in cash. But he has not yet asked Judge Luis Rodríguez to summon Rosario Lufrano, president of Radio y Televisión Argentina (RTA).
The complaint was filed by Ricardo Benedetti and Jimena Casiñeira against the head of RTA, who is in charge of the company that runs National Radio and Public TV. To that complaint was later added another from the defendant Lufrano herself.
Those summoned to the investigation by the prosecutor Pollicita are Guillermo Siaira, Director of Administration and Finance, and Ernesto Molinero, Production Manager, Ernesto Molinero, who had contracts with Public TV and they submitted their resignations, at Lufrano’s request. Also the treasurer Claudio Lamalfa, who would be the one who withdrew the money from the Banco Itaú branch that is within the facilities of the state channel.
Also mentioned were Alejandro de la Torre, Deputy Director of Administration and Finance, and Ariel Berliner, Deputy Manager of Production, who are prohibited from entering the channel, for two months, since they have permanent staff positions, so the authorities preferred to wait for the administrative proceedings to finish before firing them.
The sixth summoned by the prosecutor was the supplier Adriana Maestri, who obtained “undue benefits” from the irregular operation, as well as the public officials, “causing, on the other hand, an economic damage to the public coffers,” said Pollicita. She was paid in cash $ 1.9 million for the realization of scenery, because it was known to the officials, but they did so “without any kind of contractual support and through direct purchase,” in violation of the channel’s Hiring Regulations.
The whistleblower Benedetti was an official in Hernán Lombardi’s macrista management, when he was coordinator of Analysis and Management Control of the Federal System of Public Media and Content. Now he is a columnist for the program that Baby Etchecopar has on Radio Rivadavia and general secretary of Banquemos, a very active group of Juntos por el Cambio (JxC). From that political front, the deputies asked to summon Lufrano, for the RTA president to report on this scandal in Congress.
The court case It is titled “Lufrano, Rosario, on breach of authority and violation of the duties of a public official, and misappropriation of public funds”. There the prosecutor details that the “fraud maneuver” was deployed between February 26 and March 8 by Siaira, Molinero, De la Torre, Berliner and Lamalfa, with the participation of Maestri, among others.
The five RTA officials and Public TV extracted $ 11.4 million in cash from RTA’s account, “in the context of the start-up of internal production Belgrano’s forbidden loves“, as advance expenses,” in order to materialize the discretionary acquisition of various products and services, disregarding regulatory regulations of the activity carried out there and bypassing internal control mechanisms existing in the so-called State Society, “said the prosecutor Pollicita.
This operation “generated undue profit by not having the proper authorization from the RTA Board of Directors or the approval of a budget to support them,” added the prosecutor. And he stressed that this operation was interrupted not by his own decision “but by the public status of the situation that led to the Presidency of RTA to adopt measures with a view to recovering part of the funds. ”
He also stated that “the first hires”, which date back to mid-2020, “the intervention of the President of the Board is observed,” but everything that was done “subsequently by the defendants escaped the control of the members of the Board of Directors, who were far from authorizing the questioned expenditures. “
Of the $ 11.4 million, the prosecutor stated that $ 8.1 million recovered, while the rest were presented vouchers that “were made a priori for the benefit of the defendants themselves and unrelated to the purpose for which they were managed.”
The legal classification of the investigated crimes is of unfaithful administration to the detriment of the public administration, abuse of authority and negotiations incompatible with the exercise of the public function, with penalties that reach up to six years in prison and disqualification from holding public office.
“The aforementioned extremes allow us to be certain – with the degree of certainty that this instance requires – that the accused, violating their duties and abusing the trust that had been placed in them as hierarchical officials of RTA, by means of the cash extraction of sums of money from the bank account of the company and their subsequent use, avoiding the relevant control mechanisms and the regulations that regulate action within the same, harmed the public coffers assigned to RTA, in a clear benefit own and third parties “, concluded Pollicita.
Since the scandal broke out on Public TV two months ago, ten officials have already left, including two executive directors of Public TV: Eliseo Alvarez, who suffered pressure spikes when the scandal broke; and Leo Flores, who lasted only one week in office due to ideological pressures from ultra-Christian sectors and had to return to his previous position, as artistic manager of the channel.
The case became known when Clarion It revealed last March that a director of Public TV withdrew several million in cash from the account that the channel has at Banco Itaú, to pay production expenses for a fiction about Manuel Belgrano; and that the channel authorities had initiated an internal audit and had demanded that the executives involved return that money and deliver the receipts of the payments they made on those days, since they had to carry out the operations electronically, since Payment in cash and without a contract to Public TV providers is prohibited.